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November 8, 2013

Peck, Simpson play big; Northern Kentucky notes

Errick Peck isn't defined by offensive production.

He knows his importance to Purdue's team lies in his versatility, an ability to defend the post and perimeter, to use his strength and embrace the game's physicality on the glass and, then, to take his scoring opportunities as they come.

Peck picked the perfect spot for the latter Friday.

With Purdue trailing by four and desperately needing a basket in the final minute, Peck calmly drained a three-pointer from the corner to cut the gap and revive the quickly sinking Boilermakers.

"He's solid," Coach Matt Painter said after Purdue escaped with a 77-76 victory over Northern Kentucky in the season opener. "We need more guys who are solid. At times, you don't know he's out there, he just does his job. But he stepped up tonight and made a huge shot, and obviously he led us in rebounding. If you can rebound on our team, you're going to find a spot. ... I think he fits that void for us. We've fortunate to have him."

Earlier in the week, Peck said his role wouldn't be to score double-digit points every night but instead to "crash the boards hard, play passing lanes, get steals, get blocks." But he quickly added, "I absolutely can score the ball when necessary."

He was the picture of efficiency, too, making five of his six shots to score 11 points.

And yet he did so much more in his first start for the Boilermakers.

When Purdue needed someone to get established on the boards, Peck did so, grabbing six of his team-high nine in the second half. He also had a team-high two blocks and added two assists in 26 minutes.

"Having Errick Peck in there, I thought he played really poised, as far as stepping in and making that shot and also on the glass," Terone Johnson said. "We were getting killed on the offensive glass. I thought out of everyone, he was the one getting the rebounds."

A firm finish
Jay Simpson's role could change when A.J. Hammons returns to Purdue's lineup on Wednesday after serving a three-game suspension.

But in 25 minutes in the opener, Simpson did enough to for Terone Johnson to say he thought Simpson was "probably the reason we won the game."

"I thought he played great," Johnson said.

Simpson made 5-of-9 shots, mostly in the paint, and made four of his five free throws to score 14 points, second only to Ronnie Johnson's team-high 18. Simpson also had six rebounds, a block and two steals.

"It was really important (to step up) because A.J. is a big part of the team so without him, we really had to step up and fill in his place," Simpson said.

Also, in an interesting twist, Simpson was charged with guarding some smaller players on the perimeter because Purdue switched all screens while he was in the game. Painter liked what he saw from the "center" in that regard, saying Simpson contained the dribble better than anyone else on Purdue's team.

"They beat him a couple times, but for the most part, he can get in a stance and guard people," Painter said. "He's a talented guy. I thought he did a great job. Our guards are the ones who kept getting beat. We simply just have to some pride, get in a stance and contain the dribble."

The Boilermakers allowed a team that doesn't have a player taller than 6-9 to play even with them on the boards.

And that did not sit well with Painter.

"It doesn't matter how tall you are to box somebody out," he said. "Anybody who can play the game of basketball, you might not be able to guard somebody one-on-one in space but you can be in the right position, you can box somebody out. You can physically hit them and go get the basketball. We have a lot of guys right now who watch.

"I thought we could play 10 or 11 (players), but if guys aren't going to embrace the physicality of the game and they're not going to make good decisions and take good shots, maybe we won't. I don't know. We have talent, but we've got to have some discipline and we've got to have some toughness and right now that's not where we are as a team when shots go up. I think it's a fun part of basketball, you get a chance to crack somebody and go get the ball, and offensively, you get to fly in there."

Northern Kentucky had 17 offensive rebounds, converting them into 17 second-chance points. But it missed its easiest putback of the night - when Jake Geisler had a point-blank look in the final second that could have won the game.

Of Purdue's 35 rebounds, 16 were offensive, leading to 19 second-chance points. Peck and Simpson combined for 15 of the team's rebounds. Rapheal Davis led the guards with five.

"We're just simply too casual and too cool," Painter said of rebounding. "You'll get steamrolled in our league if that's how you want to play. So we have to change that."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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